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The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.



authority n

pl: -ties
1 : an official decision of a court used esp. as a precedent
2 a : a power to act esp. over others that derives from status, position, or office [the of the president]
: jurisdiction
b : the power to act that is officially or formally granted (as by statute, corporate bylaw, or court order) [within the scope of the treasurer's ] [police officers executing a warrant…are not required to “knock and announce” their and purposes before entering "National Law Journal"]
c : power and capacity to act granted by someone in a position of control
: the power to act granted by a principal to his or her agent

actual authority
: the authority that a principal in reality has granted to an agent

actual express authority
: the actual authority of an agent specifically stated or written by the principal

actual implied authority
: the actual authority of an agent that the principal has not specified but has purposely or through negligence allowed the agent to believe has been granted

apparent authority
: the authority that a principal purposely or through negligence allows a third party to believe that the principal's agent has although such authority has not in reality been granted called also authority by estoppel ostensible authority NOTE: A principal is bound by the acts of an agent acting with apparent authority.

express authority
: authority that is explicitly granted to an agent by a principal called also expressed authority stipulated authority

implied authority
: the authority to perform acts that are customary, necessary, and understood by an agent as authorized in performing acts for which the principal has given express authority

ostensible authority
: apparent authority in this entry

stipulated authority
: express authority in this entry
3 : a person in a position of power and esp. a public office usually used in pl. [the local authorities]
4 a : a government agency or corporation that administers a revenue-producing public enterprise [the transit ]
b : a government agency or public office responsible for an area of regulation [should apply for a permit to the permitting ]

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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